Friday, September 25, 2015

Bleach - Why it's Not Perfect

Written by Shiggins

I've talked about why Ouran Highschool Host Club is not perfect. I've talked about why Naruto is not perfect. I've participated in explaining why One Piece is nowhere near perfect. And now, I'm going to finally take on the sword-obsessed shonen series known as Bleach. Just like with the other series I've done "Not Perfect" article on, this doesn't mean I hate Bleach. I just can see the glaring issues that get on my nerves. From stupidity to characters, I will be attacking the second ever anime series I checked out, and I will finally be finished with The Big Three of Shonen Jump!

...Claydragon is gonna be mad at me!


Note: As always, spoilers and reasons to get mad at me ahead.


Ichigo Kurosaki, ladies and gentles! The big badass main character who fights all the villains, saves all the heroes and yet somehow gets none of the girls! He's ginger! He's tough! He's serious! And he's... okay. That's it really. He's just okay. He is nothing special whatsoever.

That's right! Nothing special... but damn he looks good with long hair...
Why am I not head-over-heels in love with Ichigo? Quite a few reasons actually but the most glaring one is that he's okay. He's not especially weird or quirky, reacting to every chaotic situation with either huge panic or huge wonder. He's not got any ultimate goal except "protect my friends", which is the most generic of all motivations when you really get down to it. And he's not even that interesting to look at, since he's only a few steps away from being the generic brown-haired protagonist from every harem series ever.

His attempt to be the next Spiderman for yet another reboot did him no favours.
All of these problems result in me bored out of my mind whenever Ichigo is on stage. Characters like Naruto Uzumaki are interesting because they have a huge and relatable goal to focus on and that's what drives them through the events of the story. Characters like Goku are interesting because they view terrifying conditions with a nearly disturbing love for the battle, which can result in serious consequences and make us curious to see what could happen. And characters like Ichigo really just go through the motions, barely giving a unique reaction to anything substantial. He's not a bad character. He's just nowhere near a good one.


However, a character's personality is not always a factor in their likability. A lot of the times, the best characters have the best abilities and techniques, some of which give them a major advantage while others are given a major disadvantage that they have to overcome. And in what is becoming far too frequent amongst manga characters these days, some are just born with EVERYTHING!

Wow, it's a good thing he activated his random Berserker hollow mode, or Ichigo might have actually been really hurt!
A very common annoyance for Bleach fans is the amount of times we're told Ichigo has "that" inside him. At first, we were told he had the powers of a Soul Reaper inside him, so he was half-human and half-Soul Reaper. That's fairly predictable and acceptable, since you'd have a harder time finding a non-mudblood Shonen protagonist but then suddenly, Ichigo has Hollow powers inside him too. Oh and he's also a Fullbringer. And he's also got Quincy blood inside him. I'm honestly just waiting for this arc to say he's also got Soul King blood inside him, just to add to the encyclopedia of nonsense he is!

Yes, Ichigo does have to train to learn the Bankai and the Fullbring powers and yes, he does go through some strain because of the Hollow Mask, but this amount of favouritism towards Ichigo just makes it seem almost pointless, since literally everybody who trains extremely hard are overcome by someone "born special". If I was Rukia, I'd fucking give up. "Well, he's clearly got everything inside him and can do or anything. I'll just push away the little villains until he shows up and takes all the credit".

So... Many... Characters!

There's too many! Okay?! I know Naruto had a ton of them, and I said the same thing about that series, but I think this one might actually be worse! I haven't counted but I'm pretty sure the cast is a lot bigger here than it is over there.

You get barely any time! And you get barely any time! EVERYBODY GETS BARELY ANY TIIIIME! (Except you, Uryu).
The amount of minor villains that I fell in love with are actually quite staggering, and that might be the most back-handed compliment I've ever said but it's true. Characters like Ggio Vega have brilliant designs that surpass many of the more major characters like Ichigo, and yet they barely appear. The reason for this is an obvious one; Too many. Tite Kubo can't give them all the screentime they deserve, so it's almost a congratulations I give as I lament the fact that Coyote Starrk only existed for one battle and two scenes before it. 

It's the same problems as with Naruto of course. Brilliant characters take too long to appear because it's almost like they're fighting each other for screentime, and they don't get the amount of exposure they clearly require to flesh out and be enjoyable. The final arc of Bleach is the biggest criminal here, with literally dozens or tens of dozens of chapters hinting at a character appearing later, but then when they do finally appear, the series doesn't actually use them for very long because so many others are trying to be rammed in. It's a mess.

S..... L..... O..... W.....

I actually own Bleach volumes and I honestly recommend buying paperback volumes for manga series and writers that deserve it. And one of the benefits of owning the volumes is that I can binge-read it at my own pace, because the alternative is possibly the most painfully slow series I've ever had to crawl through.

It's pages like this authority-demanding finger that cause such problems to burn inside my soul.
Every chapter refuses to go at a fast pace, dragging fights and even simple conversations to the point of overdone boredom. You can tell that Tite Kubo knows where he wants his chapter to end, and is basically using filler to make sure it ends at that exact point. While this is great to read as a whole, stopping each week after barely anything happening is not only boring, it's sore.

The chapter that took nearly 20 pages, but was summed up in 1.
I think the best example of this might be Chapter 581, which begins with Ichigo arriving at the battlefield and ends with Ichigo... arriving at the battlefield. It is literally his descent as he falls from the sky, after Chapter 580 ended with the obvious sign that he had arrived already. The time was filled with glimpses of other characters, but they were really quick and pointless. The series commits this crime a lot and I don't think I've ever seen a manga push its luck as much as this.

Aizen vs Yhwach

I'm not going to turn this into a debate of "who is a better villain?", but everybody in the world knows the story should have ended with Aizen as the main villain. And while that may still be possible, it will never have the same effect it could have if the series hadn't made such a confusingly dumb blunder.

"Tite Kubo, sir. Can you think of anything more evil than Aizen?"
"Manga Hitler!"
The "Arrancar Saga" ended with the defeat of Aizen, as he was sealed up thanks to Ichigo and Kisuke Urahara. Ichigo had lost his powers and the fairly pathetic Fullbring Arc brought them back in a clearly half-assed away to keep the series going. Then we got the Quincy Saga, where a brand new villain known as Yhwach appeared out of nowhere and suddenly took over as main antagonist.

I'll be the first to admit that Yhwach was actually quite impressive when he first appeared. He killed his own minions and even one of the more powerful characters, revealed secrets to Ichigo, and his facial hair has done nothing but grow throughout the series. (I'm serious, look at how his hair has grown!). As time went on, the interesting features of Yhwach were far outmatched by the boring ones such as his actual personality and being even more overpowered than the former main antagonist somehow, and we all started to wish Aizen would return.

He is literally tied to a chair and is still able to take on Yhwach! Are you kidding me, Manga Hitler?!
While it's never a bad thing to have multiple major antagonists, it's never as effective to just throw a bad guy in without foreshadowing, after you've been dealing with someone as major as Aizen. Aizen had such a presence on the show, due to being the major authority figure of evil since the Soul Society Arc. Even to this day, he's still around and far more interesting than Yhwach because we've gotten to know him. Yhwach suffers from appearing for literally just the final arc, and that cheapens who he is and how important he is. If I needed to put it in Naruto terms, he's almost like the Kaguya to Aizen's Madara... except nowhere near as awful because Yhwach is lasting longer than one fight. 

Well... That Was Dumb

I feel a bit bad for talking about this one, but I say those words a lot during the Bleach storyline. From a story perspective, many of these ridiculous visuals and plot points that occur do make some semblance of sense, due to being inspired by some sort of cultural aspect. (To find out more about Bleach symbolism, read Claydragon's article here). However, when you really look at them...

I literally laughed out loud when I first saw this thing. It's far too funny.
A giant hand. A brain in a jar. A man dressed up like a butterfly. And... Zommari. I don't even know what sort of pumpkin-themed hell Zommari's final form is from but it looks ridiculous. And sure, you can tell me it's based on some sort of clever metaphor for Christianity, but if it just comes across as stupid then there's no point! Focus on telling a story before you focus on the symbolism and metaphors etc. And this... This is so stupid.

I don't even know whether to laugh or cry.

Foreshadowing? Is that the thing that comes before Fiveshadowing?

I know my title was supremely subtle about it so let me explain. Bleach sucks at foreshadowing or revealing facts in a way that doesn't make it feel like it was pushed out of an ass. At times, Bleach does manage to hint at a future plot development that does show some planning, such as when Uryu looked suspiciously at the Soul Reaper badge, which turned out to be a plot point a few arcs later, but for the majority of it, Tite Kubo prefers to just throw them in and never do it again.

Ladies and germs, I present to you a MacGuffin generator!
There are plenty of examples of when something like an ability has appeared without previous explanation, such as Kenpachi's power increase when he uses two hands to swing his sword, or when Urahara sealed up Aizen using some sort of random bullshit that we'd never heard about before it was used in what might be the biggest Deus Ex Machina ever, but I personally think the biggest bead of crap that came out the arse was Final Getsuga Tenshou.

Good thing it's one of the most badass designs I'll ever see, or I'd be so mad.
Never once was it hinted that Ichigo's sword could go to a new level or take his powers away through one majorly advanced super-attack. Ichigo wasn't just lucky enough to have this power, he also had a place that allowed him to learn it before the final battle with Aizen. (In their defense, that part is slightly explained...). Why can Ichigo become Getsuga himself? Does this mean other Shinigami can do it? If not, why? This one attack makes absolutely no sense and while I do admit it looks awesome, it came out of nowhere and was just... random!

Any flaws I missed out? Any other manga/anime series I should be pointing out the flaws of? I'm sure I could find something in every series!

Tell me below in the comments.

Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on or go to his tumblr page


  1. First off, that was a really good article, most of the points are really Bleach's main problems, but I think some are not entirely correct and I think you forgot one point, that Kubo favors the Shinigami a bit too much. It steals the suspense, if one knows the Shinigami are going to survive the fight and enemy character (in eight out of ten) cases will die, no matter how cool, interesting or sympathetic he was. It gives also the feeling, this war is good vs evil or black and white, while it is actually more gray/black vs gray/black, though I think that may actually change in the future and the Shinigami will be portrayed in a negative light.

    Anyway, we already know that Ichigo has the Soul King's blood. Every Quincy does, except for maybe Uryuu. And I think his Hollow powers were introduced believable and the origin of his Quincy and Fullbring powers was explained in a really good way, with Masaki's past and Aizen's experiments. Also FGT was somewhat foreshadowed with Uryuu's Letzt Stil. Techincally speaking FGT may be Ichigo's Letzt Stil. And his Hollow did warn Ichigo not to die, otherwise he would be in control.

    Yhwach was actually foreshadowed too in Uryuu's flashback, then there is the whole Zangetsu thing and there was actually a cover that showed Ichigo's past enemies and something resembling Yhwach in chains. But his personality is boring. But unlike Aizen, he actually does things and fight and doesn't just sit around drinking tea. Also the major appeal about Yhwach is his mystirious past and connection to the Soul King. And imagine what would have happened, if Bleach ended with Aizen's defeat? We would have so many unaswered questions and the final arc does answer tem, but very slowly.

    I wouldn't dismiss, that Kubo throws all the foreshadowing away, it is just, that he is so slow at it. I think most of the things, are going to resolved in the (faaar) future. The Kendo thing for example was explained by Unohana.

    Though all in all, most of your complaints are dead-on and even the othesr are reasonable and understandable.

    1. I knew I was forgetting at least one more. And that is actually an excellent point. Arrancars like Coyote Stark definitely got the raw end of the deal, and were treated like pure villains at the end by characters who are probably just as bad as the ones who killed them. Like Shunsui said though "the moment you start a war, you're both evil". If Bleach was going to be taking a lot longer to end, I think there would be a good chance at seeing the darker side of the Shinigami that characters like Yamamoto and Kurotsuchi represent, but it's unlikely since it's supposed to end this year. I'd love it though if they could.

      I do agree that they were explained well enough as an introduction, but it feels unnecessary when looking at the big picture. Masaki's backstory is one of the highlights of this current arc, so I won't disagree. I just wish that Ichigo didn't need so many advantages since birth.

      True. Yhwach is a far more active villain, which tends to make him better than Aizen at times. As a character who only appeared for this final arc however, he does lose quite a bit of tension since it feels so last-minute. I like when he does stuff. I just dislike him as an actual character, and how he was barely referenced beforehand. Yhwach's foreshadowing from previous arcs were so minor, I completely forgot about them and had to check them again though.

      And yeah, I agree. In a perfect world, I think Aizen should still be around and free so other questions can be answered, but this arc is still good at answering questions so I can't complain too much.

      An explanation after the sudden convenient ability or whatever doesn't really count though. That's more like trying to clear up a mistake, except for very few instances of course.

      And thank you. Always good to hear feedback or opinion, especially ones that make me question myself.

  2. Good points. They were well argued. I have to disagree about Yhwach being the Kaguya to Aizen's Madara, but that a minor thing. I recommend Fairy Tail next. People go on about how it's the greatest shounen ever despite the fact that it has all the typical shounen flaws times ten.

    1. Thank you very much. And a Fairy Tail one... criticising that which I review... Iiiinteresting! It might take a while since I have new job stuff and a different article coming up, but I'll look into your request.